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Tricky|Maxinquaye (Reincarnated)

Maxinquaye (Reincarnated)

Tricky

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Tricky's debut, Maxinquaye, is an album of stunning sustained vision and imagination, a record that sounds like it has no precedent as it boldly predicts a new future. Of course, neither sentiment is true. Much of the music on Maxinquaye has its roots in the trip-hop pioneered by Massive Attack, which once featured Tricky, and after the success of this record, trip-hop became fashionable, turning into safe, comfortable music to be played at upscale dinner parties thrown by hip twenty and thirtysomethings. Both of these sentiments are true, yet Maxinquaye still manages to retain its power; years later, it can still sound haunting, disturbing, and surprising after countless spins. It's an album that exists outside of time and outside of trends, a record whose clanking rhythms, tape haze, murmured vocals, shards of noise, reversed gender roles, alt-rock asides, and soul samplings create a ghostly netherworld fused with seductive menace and paranoia. It also shimmers with mystery, coming not just from Tricky -- whose voice isn't even heard until the second song on the record -- but with vocalist, Martina Topley-Bird, whose smoky singing lures listeners into the unrelenting darkness of the record. Once they're there, Maxinquaye offers untold treasures. There is the sheer pleasure of coasting by on the sound of the record, how it makes greater use of noise and experimental music than anything since the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy. Then, there's the tip of the hat to PE with a surreal cover of "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," sung by Topley-Bird and never sounding like a postmodernist in-joke. Other references and samples register subconsciously -- while Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap II" flows through "Hell Is Around the Corner" and the Smashing Pumpkins are even referenced in the title of "Pumpkin," Shakespear's Sister and the Chantels slip by, while Michael Jackson's "Bad" thrillingly bleeds into "Expressway to Your Heart" on "Brand New You're Retro." Lyrics flow in and out of consciousness, with lingering, whispered promises suddenly undercut by veiled threats and bursts of violence. Then, there's how music that initially may seem like mood pieces slowly reveal their ingenious structure and arrangement and register as full-blown songs, or how the alternately languid and chaotic rhythms finally compliment each other, turning this into a bracing sonic adventure that gains richness and resonance with each listen. After all, there's so much going on here -- within the production, the songs, the words -- it remains fascinating even after all of its many paths have been explored (which certainly can't be said of the trip-hop that followed, including records by Tricky). And that air of mystery that can be impenetrable upon the first listen certainly is something that keeps Maxinquaye tantalizing after it's become familiar, particularly because, like all good mysteries, there's no getting to the bottom of it, no matter how hard you try.

© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Maxinquaye (Reincarnated)

Tricky

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1
Overcome (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:04:29

Mark Saunders, Producer - Marcella Detroit, ComposerLyricist - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Siobhan Maire Deirdre Fahey, ComposerLyricist - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Ponderosa (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:03:30

Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Howie B., Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Black Steel (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:05:39

Carlton Ridenhour, Author - Eric Sadler, Composer - William Drayton, ComposerLyricist - Mark Saunders, Producer - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Hell Is Round The Corner (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:03:47

Mark Saunders, Producer - Isaac Hayes, ComposerLyricist - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

5
Pumpkin (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:04:30

Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Alison Goldfrapp, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Aftermath (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:07:43

Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Petrie, Producer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

7
Abbaon Fat Tracks (Abbey Road Remaster) Explicit
00:04:26

Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

8
Brand New You're Retro (Abbey Road Remaster) Explicit
00:02:54

Mark Saunders, Producer - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

9
Suffocated Love (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:04:53

Mark Saunders, Producer - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Barratt, ComposerLyricist - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

10
You Don't (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:04:40

Mark Saunders, Producer - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ragga, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

11
Strugglin' (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:06:36

Mark Saunders, Producer - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

12
Feed Me (Abbey Road Remaster)
00:04:03

Mark Saunders, Producer - Geoff Pesche, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

DISC 2

1
Strugglin' (Reincarnated)
00:01:25

Tricky, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Marta, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hockey, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist - Tom Schneider, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Mariin Kallikorm, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Aftermath (Reincarnated)
00:02:19

Tricky, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Marta, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hockey, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist - Mariin Kallikorm, Guitar, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Ponderosa (Reincarnated)
00:01:56

Tricky, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Lucia, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hockey, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist - Mariin Kallikorm, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Marie-Claire Schlameus, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Tobias Humble, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Hell Is Round The Corner (Reincarnated)
00:02:49

Isaac Hayes, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hockey, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist - Tom Schneider, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Mariin Kallikorm, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Tobias Humble, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Sukie Smith, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

5
Pumpkin (Reincarnated)
00:03:01

Alison Goldfrapp, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Lucia, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hockey, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Schneider, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Mariin Kallikorm, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Little Aftermath
00:01:42

Tricky, Producer, MainArtist - Marta, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hockey, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist - Mariin Kallikorm, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

DISC 3

1
She Devil (Rough Monitor Mix) Explicit
00:06:24

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2009 Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Just For The Hate Of It (Rough Monitor Mix) Explicit
00:04:30

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2009 Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Overcome (Acapella / Rough Monitor Mix)
00:02:52

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2009 Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Black Steel (Rough Monitor Mix)
00:05:59

Carlton Ridenhour, Author - Eric Sadler, Composer - William Drayton, ComposerLyricist - Mark Saunders, Producer - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

DISC 4

1
Ponderosa (Ultramagnetic's Ghetto Funk Remix) Explicit
00:04:23

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ultramagnetic Mc's, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Dobie, Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1994 Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Tonite Is A Special Nite (Chaos Mass Confusion Mix)
00:04:44

R. Diggs, ComposerLyricist - T. Campbell, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Gravediggaz, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert F. "Prince Rakeem" Diggs, Producer - RZA, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dobie, Producer

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Slick 66 (Commercial 12" Mix)
00:04:17

Slick Rick, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Suffocated Love (Mix 2)
00:05:44

Mark Saunders, Producer - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Barratt, ComposerLyricist - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

5
Ponderosa (Ultramagnetic's Terrorists Power Club Mix)
00:04:12

Tricky, Producer, MainArtist - Ultramagnetic Mc's, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Dobie, Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1994 Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Brand New You're Retro (Blacksmith Dance Hall Remix / Censored)
00:06:44

Mark Saunders, Producer - Blacksmith, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Dobie, Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

7
Aftermath (Version 1)
00:05:01

Tricky, Producer, MainArtist - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Petrie, Producer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1993 Universal Music Operations Limited

8
Ponderosa (Dobie's Rub Part 2)
00:04:24

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Dobie, Producer, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Howie B., Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

9
Psychosis
00:06:35

R. Diggs, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Gravediggaz, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert F. "Prince Rakeem" Diggs, Producer - RZA, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

10
Moody Broody Buddhist Camp
00:05:16

Scott Harding, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Tricky, Producer, Mixer, MainArtist, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - New Kingdom, Producer, Mixer, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

11
She Devil (MIx 1) Explicit
00:05:59

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dobie, Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

12
Ponderosa (Dobie's Rub Part 1)
00:04:26

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ultramagnetic Mc's, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Dobie, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Howie B., Producer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1994 Universal Music Operations Limited

DISC 5

1
Brand New You're Retro (Leftfield Remix)
00:08:38

Mark Saunders, Producer - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Leftfield, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Pumpkin (Badja Remix)
00:04:08

Alison Goldfrapp, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Badja, Remixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Overcome (Bungle Mix)
00:02:37

Mark Saunders, Producer - Marcella Detroit, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Siobhan Maire Deirdre Fahey, ComposerLyricist - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bungle, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Brand New You're Retro (Alex Reece Remix)
00:04:49

Tricky, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Reece, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

5
Hell Is Around The Corner (The Hell & Water Mix)
00:04:21

Isaac Hayes, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Suffocated Love (Mix 1)
00:05:19

Mark Saunders, Producer - Tricky, Producer, Vocals, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Barratt, ComposerLyricist - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

7
Overcome (2009 Remix)
00:03:24

Mark Saunders, Producer, Co-Producer - Marcella Detroit, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Co-Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Siobhan Maire Deirdre Fahey, ComposerLyricist - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Al Riley, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

8
Black Steel (In The Draw Mix)
00:06:22

Carlton Ridenhour, Author - Eric Sadler, Composer - William Drayton, ComposerLyricist - Mark Saunders, Producer - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, MainArtist - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SubStance, Remixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

9
Ponderosa (Original Instrumental)
00:04:21

Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Howie Bernstein, ComposerLyricist - Howie B., Producer - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1994 Universal Music Operations Limited

10
Hell Is Round The Corner (2009 Remix)
00:05:43

Mark Saunders, Producer - Isaac Hayes, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Gareth Bowen, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2009 Universal Music Operations Limited

11
Black Steel (2009 Remix)
00:03:55

Carlton Ridenhour, Author - Eric Sadler, Composer - William Drayton, ComposerLyricist - Mark Saunders, Producer - Jose Maria, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Fil Bucchino, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kidd Rasta, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ed Zych, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2009 Universal Music Operations Limited

12
Overcome (Zippy Mix)
00:02:38

Mark Saunders, Producer - Marcella Detroit, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Siobhan Maire Deirdre Fahey, ComposerLyricist - Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

13
Black Steel (Been Caught Steeling Mix)
00:05:58

Carlton Ridenhour, Author - Eric Sadler, Composer - William Drayton, ComposerLyricist - Mark Saunders, Producer - CHARLIE FRANCIS, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Ian Caple, Remixer, StudioPersonnel - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

14
Pumpkin (Ambient MIx)
00:04:44

Alison Goldfrapp, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

15
Black Steel (The Live Remix)
00:05:03

Carlton Ridenhour, Author - Eric Sadler, Composer - William Drayton, ComposerLyricist - Mark Saunders, Producer - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Tricky, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Martina Topley-Bird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - T.H.E.M., Remixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1995 Universal Music Operations Limited

Album review

Tricky's debut, Maxinquaye, is an album of stunning sustained vision and imagination, a record that sounds like it has no precedent as it boldly predicts a new future. Of course, neither sentiment is true. Much of the music on Maxinquaye has its roots in the trip-hop pioneered by Massive Attack, which once featured Tricky, and after the success of this record, trip-hop became fashionable, turning into safe, comfortable music to be played at upscale dinner parties thrown by hip twenty and thirtysomethings. Both of these sentiments are true, yet Maxinquaye still manages to retain its power; years later, it can still sound haunting, disturbing, and surprising after countless spins. It's an album that exists outside of time and outside of trends, a record whose clanking rhythms, tape haze, murmured vocals, shards of noise, reversed gender roles, alt-rock asides, and soul samplings create a ghostly netherworld fused with seductive menace and paranoia. It also shimmers with mystery, coming not just from Tricky -- whose voice isn't even heard until the second song on the record -- but with vocalist, Martina Topley-Bird, whose smoky singing lures listeners into the unrelenting darkness of the record. Once they're there, Maxinquaye offers untold treasures. There is the sheer pleasure of coasting by on the sound of the record, how it makes greater use of noise and experimental music than anything since the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy. Then, there's the tip of the hat to PE with a surreal cover of "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," sung by Topley-Bird and never sounding like a postmodernist in-joke. Other references and samples register subconsciously -- while Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap II" flows through "Hell Is Around the Corner" and the Smashing Pumpkins are even referenced in the title of "Pumpkin," Shakespear's Sister and the Chantels slip by, while Michael Jackson's "Bad" thrillingly bleeds into "Expressway to Your Heart" on "Brand New You're Retro." Lyrics flow in and out of consciousness, with lingering, whispered promises suddenly undercut by veiled threats and bursts of violence. Then, there's how music that initially may seem like mood pieces slowly reveal their ingenious structure and arrangement and register as full-blown songs, or how the alternately languid and chaotic rhythms finally compliment each other, turning this into a bracing sonic adventure that gains richness and resonance with each listen. After all, there's so much going on here -- within the production, the songs, the words -- it remains fascinating even after all of its many paths have been explored (which certainly can't be said of the trip-hop that followed, including records by Tricky). And that air of mystery that can be impenetrable upon the first listen certainly is something that keeps Maxinquaye tantalizing after it's become familiar, particularly because, like all good mysteries, there's no getting to the bottom of it, no matter how hard you try.

© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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